The Hatch – Chapter Three -Pandora’s Box

Jason looks at his pale watery refection in the mirror, that nightmare really took it’s toll on him, thank god he didn’t remember any more of it. His eyes dark and weak like they had been open all night long without even a blink, His lips were rough and cracked he noticed as he began to brush his teeth, what was causing this?  he was feeling fine, so why did he look like he had aged close to ten years over night?. He went to his bedroom and got dressed before moving to the kitchen where his mother was cooking breakfast, she was as much of a morning person as one could be, always dressed and fully ready for the day and singing along to the radio, unstoppable. She was wearing her ratty, old Bruce Springsteen t shirt today, always had to be in a good mood to wear that, fun mom. She turned with the frying pan in her hand.

“Good Morning Handsome” she smiled “Did you sleep okay?” she asked moving the fried eggs from the pan to the two plates she had set up.

Jason took a seat at the kitchen table “Not really, I had a bad dream and i’ve been feeling sluggish” he said truthfully as she turned, laying the plate on the table in front of him. He was not really hungry in the mornings but he ate anyway. Violet Parker was a single mother since Jason was seven, rather than sitting around crying about not having a man around to help her raise her son, she pushed all that aside to become the best mother she could possibly be and it worked a treat. The only downside is pretty soon she would have to stop being so mother like because Jason was becoming a young man and he would no longer need her in certain ways. It was going to be hard to back off and let go a little bit, she had gotten so used to who she was over the past thirteen years.

“A nightmare?” she asked sitting down with her breakfast and a steaming cup of coffee “you’ve never complained about nightmares before, despite with the kind of films you watch”Jason takes a bite out of the sausage on his fork before looking over to his mother, she did not fully approve with him watching horror films with his friends but boys will be boys and who’s going to stop them?

“This one was different, it was like” Jason started as he tried to remember but the dream had completely left his head “I don’t really know, but wasn’t like anything from a film”

“That happens honey, Just don’t let them get the better of you, they are just dream after all” she said with a reassuring smile as she held her cup in both hands. For 38 years old she still looked the same from when she was in her mid twenties, aside from the crows feet next to her eyes and the occasional back spasms she would get when the seasons changed she was still a beautiful woman, Some of Jason’s friends would make vulgar comments from time to time and would be rewarded with Hulk like punch in the arm if they took things too far.

“What are your plans for the day?” Violet asked as she took the plates, scraping the leftovers into the dogs bowl for later.

“Just hanging around with Tommy” He told her “Hey mam, could you make some lunch for me please, We have a busy day and I wont be home for dinner”

“I hope you lads are not going too far out of the town” she said disapprovingly as she took the loaf of bread from it’s place to make sandwiches.

“No we’re not, we are just down by the green pool, but it means you wont have to cook and i wont have to walk all the way home only to walk all the way back there” he said with a grin, hoping his theory won her over. She shook her head, smiled and proceeded to make food for him and Tommy. Jason ran back up to his room to gather a few things before coming back with his backpack over his shoulders. His mother handed him two Tupperware to back before giving him a strong hug, not wanting to let go, deep down she hated not having him home cause knowing he was around was the piece of mind in being sure he was always safe but that’s not what she could ever do.

Jason walked to the crossroads and could not see Tommy anywhere in sight; he was probably still in bed, seemed to be the easiest thing to imagine him doing. No point in turning back since he was already so close to the green pit so he moved on. He took it steady down the rocky path when he heard noises through the natural silence that comes with the location. Further down the path he could see in the distance that Tommy was already here, digging away like his life depended on it. He walked a little further on getting closer to the green pit before he made his presence known.

“Thought you were going to wait for me” Jason said dragging his feet through the long grass over to Tommy who was out of breath and sweating. He had already done a lot of digging, carving out a boarder around the steel trap door. The mud streaked over the steel like dirty fingers had been clawing it from the outside, it had a few dents from Tommy digging too far. they both worked hard together to see how much more they could uncover

“Have you tried opening it yet?” Jason asked hesitantly, he wanted to open it so much but at the same time there was a little voice coming from within saying nothing good will come from it. there must have been a reason it was covered, it must have been discovered at some point in the past, why hadn’t they opened it? because they were not stupid kids probably.

“No, I was waiting for you” He smirked “Think I’d try to open it without my best mate here?” Jason paused for a moment looking at his friend who could not keep eye contact, Sweat beading on the bridge of his nose, rolling down when he looked up to the sky scrunching his face to it violent sight.

He had become very tanned over the last couple of days and Jason could clearly see that his stout, chubby little friend was dropping a few pounds which brought some assurance to him, His own father, Phillip Parker, a good hard working man had grown a little overweight in his final years. He made no secret that he loved to eat, he would tell Jason that the best part of dinner was knowing that you worked for it. In his late twenties when he first met Violet Bates, who seven months on he would marry BEFORE she fell pregnant, Phillip was a tall, strong and wickedly handsome man. Charm the knickers off a nun that lad Jason’s mother would say with that dreamy far away look she would hold with the slightest hint of a smile. Once Phillip was married and settled down with a steady and secure job, He seemed to let himself go in a way. He was in no way depressed in face he was the opposite, He was one of those people who seemed constantly happy, one of those people you could imagine who would sleep with a lunatic smile on their face. Some days he was neutral but always seemed to crack a smile. He started to get bigger, his muscles were no doubt still there, there was just extra meat on them.

When Jason was around seven, His dad took him to the canal to catch tadpoles. He had been a few times and loved it, running down the wooden walk way which seemed to stretch on for miles from two banks on each side going along with it. He remembers at the end there were two very large, ancient looking pillars of rock which always frightened Jason for some reason. Jason would stare through the mods of long grass which would hang down into the almost swampy water and spy a dragon fly which would shoot out and hover in front of his face. Dragon flies were nothing to be scared of, they varied in sizes but what Jason loved so much was how they seemed to float in the air, swaying this way and that way before shooting off along the canal. Phillip laughed heartily when Jason took chase to find out what secrets they were keeping from him. They almost seemed to beckon him playfully come on Jason, keep up with us. The hard rubber of his wellies knocked against the wooden slats, a few of them were loose but the walk way was wide enough for him to land on if he fell, rather than going head first into the green murk where the creatures Jason was yet to discover lurked, He dropped his net and container to pick up more speed to keep up with the Dragon flies. His dad’s laughter seemed more and more spaced out and dwindling as he looked on, usually it would end with him hardly being able to breath, his face frozen in laughter and the sound would take a pause for a good ten seconds before he let out one last ha-ha as he calmed down. Jason saw the family of fireflies disappear into the long grass, the musical hum of their wings lingering which Jason tried his best to stay as quiet as he could, his breathing rapid and heavy from running. listening to try and figure them out. He carefully reached his hands out, small fingers tenderly digging through the long hairs of grass and pulling them apart like a green curtain of nature. The Dragon flies shot out and whipped passed him, their wings buzzing against his cheeks as they passed by, sending a joyful shock through his body as he whipped around to watch them ascending into the white abyss of the sky. Jason smiled and cheered them on like it was some kind of space shuttle launch, he could almost hear them say got things to be getting on with Jason, but we will see you next summer. But little did he know this would be the last time he would ever see them. Once they were out of site he noticed he could not hear the laughter coming from his dad anymore. He looked around behind him and he was not in sight, Jason in his innocence had a feeling his dad was playing a game and hiding from him. Jason went back down the way they came from and looked carefully in the grass, giggling cause he got the sense he was getting closer

“Where is daddy?” he said in his small voice, that is what his mom used to say when they played hide and seek “Where did daddy go?” His dad would normally let himself be known for his son to find him, and just to make a prideful point Jason would jump on him to claim his victory.

Jason saw the things he had dropped to run after the dragon flies with more speed were still on the ground but his dad was nowhere in sight, he would have picked them up. Running now, Jason’s fear builds inside him sickly when the coldness of being by himself grasps him, he had never been scared of the dark or what he imagined lived under his bed but he could not bare to be left on his own. “Daddy? where are you? DADDY” he screamed as the tears started to run down his face. He did the only thing he though would work, run back to where they parked the car at the side of the road, stay in sight of the traffic with a frightened look and scream until he was heard or seen, he  screamed non stop for almost half an hour before his voice was no more than a whine, but someone eventually pulled over to help him. Jason never saw his daddy again.

“It’s rusted shut isn’t it?” Jason asked with a smile, He know good and well that Tommy would have been trying his all to get the handle to move.

“Yep, won’t budge an inch” Tommy said in defeat as he sat down on top of the hatch “I’m knackered” Jason joined him and pulled two cans of warming coke handing one to Tommy. They sat and drank almost in silence, just enjoying the sound of the nature around them. The Green Pit had become more and more shut off from the world, it was stuck somewhere back in time. No one wanted to do anything with it so it was just left as it is serving no real purpose other than just being. Jason thought that was nice, there was something special about that because he felt like he and Tommy could claim it as their own, especially more now that it held a secret that only they knew about, Well them and Tommy’s brother, Damon, who was coming down the dirt track off the main road, holding hands with his girlfriend Amy. Damon was sixteen and played rugby for his comprehensive school, He was big, bigger than their dad. He would give his little brother a hard time because, well he was an older brother. All in all he was a nice lad and was the boy’s go-to for their problems although these days he spent most of his time hanging around with Amy.

“Oi! get out of there before I call your dad” Damon called with a smile, Tommy jumped for a moment thinking they had been caught doing something bad by one of the busy bodies in town but he settled down when he could see it was just his big brother.

“Dame-O, HA!” he stood up “TOLD YOU WE FOUND IT, WE FOUND THE BUGGER!” he cheered

“Watch your mouth you little shite” Damon said as he and Amy waded through the long surrounding grass, Amy looking down and keeping her hands up in the air, scared that a snake might jump up and bite her “Hiya Jason lad, how your mom?” he winked.

“Hey Damon” Jason smiled as he stood up next to Tommy who was still breathing heavily from the digging and getting even more out of breath from being so exited “She’s good, still to good for you”

“Ah, I’ll win her over one day, believe me” he smiled and looked down to see the boys stood on top of the hatch and it’s larger surrounding dirt caked mass. “Frig me” his face dropped a little bit, his eyes moving to cover the whole dug up area “didn’t think it was like this”

Jason remembers his nightmare, it had been stuck all the way back there since he woke up and just seemed to hang over him. Why did he dream of the Hatch? why did it rumble beneath his feet and why was Adam Brooker in his dream? Just thinking of the night he had brought that very hot, twisting feeling in his stomach, making him fuss where he stood and folding his arms across his gut. As Jason spoke to Damon and Amy about what they were planning to do if and when they could get the hatch open. Jason looked up uncomfortable and all it took was the sunlight to blast into his eyes for him to roll forward and let out a big geyser of bile into the grass with a guttural choking sound. It burned his throat and tasted like coke and sour copper, his stomach contorted trying to push up more but there was nothing else to bring up, all it was doing was stopping him from catching his breath which streaked when he tried to breathe in. The others came around him, Damon putting one hand on his chest while rubbing his back and Amy holding his hand.

“It’s alright mate let it out, theres a good boy just relax” Damon seemed to almost whisper as he calmed him down. “Poor darling’ you okay?” Amy asked while rubbing his hand. He managed to take in a nice deep breath as he settled down a little bit.

“I’m okay” he said hoarsely, throat still burning from the vomit and eyes watering “Thank you”

Damon took a closer look at him, feeling the damp skin on his forehead and observing his features with a deepening concern for his brother’s friend who he considered a second brother himself. “You don’t look too well Jay, you sure you’re alright?” he asked “did you have some breakfast this morning?”

“Yeah I did, it just came out of nowhere” Jason thought, his breakfast was fully cooked and apart from the rough night sleep he had there was no reason for this out of nowhere episode. It must be the sun, a very hot day he barely noticed must have taken him by surprise. Sun stroke, his mom had gotten it when they went on holiday in Greece and she was throwing up for a day or two, that must be it. Damon said it would be wise if they took him home and he got some rest, Tommy was not to thrilled with that idea but a look from Damon that pretty much said it’s happening you tubby little shit, now less of the lip before before I nail you to a tree by it made him change his mind.

As they slowly walked along side the main road, Amy holding his hand Jason felt much better but decided not to pipe up because Damon was the voice of reason, very caring and a man of the world in his eyes and others. He looked down at his T-shirt, the front of it was crusted in specks of stomach fluid which stank of coke. He couldn’t help but feel embarrassed when Amy smiled at him as he had a crush on her and couldn’t face the fact he’s discharged in front of her kill me now god, just make it quick. When they arrived at his house Violet was cleaning the outside of the windows when she got the feeling Jason had been up to no good, but Damon explained everything. She still looked down at him a little bit disapprovingly when she noticed his clothes and hands were caked with dirt.

“Well I think someone should get inside, have a bath and get into bed, don’t you?” she said looking at him, he knew it was more of a fact than a suggestion. He nodded.

“Thanks a lot you three for looking after him, god knows how much more of a mess he would be in if you weren’t there” she smiled at Damon and Amy while Tommy leaned in to whisper in Jason’s ear

“I’ll be on the radio tonight if you’re still awake” he grinned in hope. Violet had bought Jason and Tommy a pair of long range two way radios for Christmas to stay in touch once it was time for them to be home.

“Yeah, I’ll leave mine on” he said, feeling and looking much better than he was forty five minutes ago.

He went inside, his mom stayed out talking with the others, probably boring them with her talk of the latest fit celebrities with Amy, How it felt almost being done with school with Damon while Tommy swayed on his heels wanting nothing more than to go home. He got in the bath washing all the dirt off of his body which clouded the water into a murky grey puddle, he had hoped Damon didn’t tell his mom what they were actually doing today, she would have something to say on the subject and he didn’t want to hear what it was. She knocked on the door a few minutes after he was fully cleaned and just relaxing in the hot water, She had put out his pyjamas on the bed and was making him a light dinner to eat while he was in bed, even through he was feeling fine he couldn’t pass that up could he? he could just stay in his room until late watching films, reading and munching away on a bedroom picnic. He got out of the bath, dried off, brushed his teeth and got ready for bed, The sun was still striking through his bedroom window and he could feel the warm carpet under his feet. He went into his closet to pick out a book and a few films to last him the night he was going to make of it.

Not feeling like he could handle something too long winded he picked out a book containing a collection of short stories he had not read as of yet, still brand new with the pages untouched and brilliant white. He settled himself under the covers after putting on the first horror film and began to read the story.

Elliot Hanson who was awakened in the night by music which seemed to be coming from the cemetery which was just across from his house. He thought maybe it was local youngsters having a party or some kind of sexually rampant ritual but the music seemed really off. It sounded like 50’s be-bop and big band music, not something horny teenagers would ever listen to.

She knocked and cracked the door open just slightly “Hiya love, are you decent?” her voice said through the small gap.

“Yeah, I’m in bed” Jason said laying his book to one side and sitting up more against his comfortable pillows. She entered his room with a smile and most importantly a bed tray which practically glowed like a religious artefact to him. She put it in front of him as it stood on it’s fold in and out legs either side of him.

“Thought you might need to replace what you lost today” said said with a smile as she took a seat on the side of his bed, taking time to look around his room which over the past couple of years he made very much his own with posters, drawings and his own kind of decor which consisted of paper-mache skulls, bones and shrunken voodoo heads. Most boys his age would start to embrace things as their own, themes which would travel with them for a very long time into old age in some cases and for Jason, it had to be horror. Violet was very much into the macabre at a young age too, perhaps it was in their genes.

“You want to talk about happened today honey?” she asked, giving him a sympathetic look which he didn’t like much, made him feel more child like than he was comfortable with but it was just a compulsion she had, what maybe all mothers had one way or another.

“I don’t really know what happened, one minute I was fine and the next I was throwing up without much warning” he explained, it felt like a lie because as far as she knew him and Tommy were out playing army or pirates but what he told her was the truth, no reason to feel this guilt. She reached out and fiddles with his still damp hair as he chewed into a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich.

“You did look a bit out of it this morning, think that might have anything to do with it?”

“I felt fine mom, and I feel better now, it was probably just the heat” he explained to her as it was the most logical reason he could have put it down to. She reached out her hand and took his, stroking the top of it with her thumb and she smiled more this time.

“Just want you to know, if there is anything you feel like you can’t tell me, I’m telling you that you can, you can tell me anything you want to” her voice was a caring whisper but each word felt heavy on his mind. There were things that he could not tell her, he couldn’t tell her about the hatch down in the green pit and he couldn’t tell her that he was starting to become scared of it. She came forward and gently hugged him, he hugged back tight, feeling more content when he was in her embrace.

CSHH! hey man, I just walked past Damon’s room and Amy was changing and I saw her BOOBS! over CSHH!

Jason couldn’t hold in his laughter through both the comic appeal of the excitement in Tommy’s voice as he spoke and the nervousness of his mom hearing it come through the two way radio. She stood up and tried to hide the smile which was breaking through started to move for the door.

“Okayyyy” she said in response of Tommy “Well I’m going to clean up in the kitchen and settle down with my soaps and let you boys talk about whatever it is you must talk about” she turned before heading out “I love you sweetheart” she said as she closed the door. Jason grabbed the radio from his night stand.

“Just so you know, my mom heard every word of that, over” he bit his tongue and tried not to laugh to loudly.

“oh….crap, over” was all he could manage to say and that really broke Jason’s laughter out like a mad man “Any way dude, these things are huge I have no idea why she hides them so much” Tommy went on but Jason was only half listening to what was being said, He found his mind drifting back to hatch. He was starting to dislike the idea of opening it up and making a club house because it clearly wasn’t a clubhouse in the past, it was something else, something more serious. It had been hidden under dirt for a reason, and the grass hand been left to grow over it for years. It had been forgotten, left to fade but…but that is not why it was made.

“I don’t know how Damon stays so calm, oh man I…”

“I think we should cover the hatch back up” Jason finally brought himself to say almost weakly in a voice that sounded so shaky even he thought himself he was going to cry. He spent his curiosity of the hatch and he wanted no more to do with it not allowing the evil curiosity to get the better of him.

“what? are you still sick?” Tommy asked

“No I’m fine, I just think we should cover it up and forget about it”

“easier said than done mate, we might have the discovery of the century on our hands here, now how can we just pretend that doesn’t exist?”

“I have a bad feeling about it Tommy, we might not want to discover what is in there”

“what are we going to find eh? some old clothes, food containers and a few old books? Come on Jay it’s worth just having a look isn’t it?”

Jason sat silently for a few moments thinking, it was 50/50 in his mind, any decision was like that and every act had two reactions or so he was taught in science but he was also told it could be put to anything mad does in day to day life. If they opened a hatch they might find nothing but any empty shell, scattered with the artefacts of its original boring purpose, However they could also find something that was not meant to be found, something that can only be hidden and not banished by those who left it. Or they could forget about the hatch all together, cover it up and move on but the reaction to that is that they would not be able to forget. They would live on and every once in a while that little voice in the back of their minds would taunt them, Don’t you want to know what is inside? sure you do, everyone would want to know if they found it. 

“Look let’s make a deal” Tommy started “we get the thing open and take a look inside, if it’s nothing then we close it up and just leave it alone, If you help me, I’ll give you my Twilight Zone box set, sound good?”

“I guess we could just talk a look” Jason said giving in “But it’s rusted shut, we can’t open it”

“Damon said he would give us a hand, chip away at the rust and oil up the handle”

“Right, okay well I’m in”

They agreed to meet down there on mid Saturday and work on trying to open it up, Jason couldn’t help but think he was digging his own grave. He got back to his book and read about how

Elliot felt when we went into the graveyard to investigate, finding an open crypt where the music was coming from. The air was thick as cold as he stepped inside seeing the narrow, stone sptiral staircase which ventured down underground. The music became louder and he was travelling down into the darkness for what seemed like half an hour until light at the bottom allowed him to see the steps and he couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw a party in full swing at the bottom of the crypt. Men in crisp tailor made tuxedos and women in long flowing ball gowns. He stood as he was just surveying the vast underground room; A band playing at the far end, woodwind, brass, percussion and singers. a bar down along the left side and the dimly lit VIP area on the right. Dancing, drinking and just having an all around good time it seemed, was he dreaming or was this some kind of performance art?

Jason suddenly stiffened up as though he was being juiced with 5000 volts, the book fell from his fingers bounced off of his chest and lay closed on the bed. He could not move a single muscle not even his eyes or his mouth to scream out. He started to convulse violently on his bed which bashed against the wall, his nightstand began to shake to through the effect of the bed and all the stuff on top was shaken off of it. They made thuds loud enough to get the attention of his mom who raced up the stairs and flung open the door to see her son in some kind of seizure. Thinking quick she rushed over and pried open his jaws to be sure he would not swallow his tongue. The look of fear on her face was grave and it almost frightened Jason more than what was happening to him. He tried to speak but nothing was working, all he could do was let what was happening to him happen. Finally he could close his eyes but instead of darkness all he could see was a strobe light which seemed to hypnotise him and draw him in.

dust twirled in the air and the whole corridor had a hint of dull greyish-blue to it, very cold almost sub-zero against his skin as he walked on the cold steel floor amongst the turned over desks which primitive broken computers. He just seemed to walk over the broken glass without causing any harm to himself. This place went from occupied to forgotten in a hurry he thought, panic and chaos happened fast and they just had to get out. He was not in control of himself, his legs carried his body towards the thick protective glass which was easily ten inches thick, but the crack on the other side had spider webbed in thin strands. The strobe light he saw was coming from inside but illuminating nothing within the room on the opposite side. There was a blow torch on the floor next to the observation window and in front of a large steel door, they tried to seal it but there was no time. Where were these truths coming from? how did he know what happened? He didn’t, He didn’t know anything about anything but they were still coming to him.

“you should not be here” A voice boomed in his head, it came from nowhere but from within himself “Get out boy, leave and do not come back” it told him.

“What is this place?” he asked the voice.

“A place that should not have been made, they played god and payed for their foolishness, they saw what was not meant to be seen by your kind?”

“My kind?”

“Human…” it answered “they did their work and did not like what they saw, it scared them”

“did you kill them?” he asked

“No…there is worse than me here, I tried to stop them but they just went on, they wanted monsters….what they got was worse”

He opened his eyes and stared up at his mom who was holding his body in her arms, her face lit up when he had stopped his shaking but her voice was still in that of total fear.

“Jason? are you okay baby? what happened are you hurt?” he was silent for a moment or two testing the muscles in his body for any sign of pain, moving his tongue to make sure he had not bitten it off. He looked into her eyes and smiled to reassure her.

“I’m fine mom” he said “Just a bad dream” he lied. The ice cold steel was still under his feet and the even colder air had goose-bumped his flesh, he could see it. It was real he thought I was inside the hatch.